|New York vs Sacramento|
|97 - 107|
And somehow, no contest.
John Salmons scored a career-high 32 points and the Sacramento Kings shook off more bad injury news Wednesday night to beat the New York Knicks 107-97, snapping a four-game losing streak.
Artest had elbow surgery earlier in the day, leaving the Kings without perhaps their three best players. Still, they never trailed and easily handed the Knicks their fifth straight loss.
"We'll take any win," center Brad Miller said. "No one has pity for us missing three of our best players, so we'll take them."
Miller had 26 points and 16 rebounds while Francisco Garcia added 22 points for the Kings, who led by as many as 24 in a game that was never close in the second half. Salmons added 11 rebounds and six assists.
"We've got to do it all as a group," Salmons said. "We've all got to team rebound. I think that's the only way we can win with all those guys out."
Eddy Curry scored 24 points for the Knicks, who lost by double digits for an NBA-high 15th time. Starting forward Zach Randolph was ejected with 1:47 left in the third quarter after tossing his headband toward referee Tony Brothers after Brothers had called him for a foul.
"There's a refusal to come together and play collectively," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We do it in spurts, but then we sit back and we watch. Just somehow got to push through this and get them playing together as a group, because individually they do have talent."
Stephon Marbury added 16 points in his first game since Dec. 17. He came off the bench to play 30 minutes after missing 10 of the last 13 games following his father's death.
"For myself, watching the guys going through what they went through, I wanted to be with them, I wanted to get in and try to help," Marbury said. "And I think I can help. I think that it's going to take some time."
Artest is expected to miss three to four weeks after five bone chips were removed from his right elbow earlier Wednesday in New York. The Kings are already without leading scorer Martin - who scored 43 points in a victory over the Knicks in November - because of a strained right groin.
Starting point guard Bibby hasn't played this season after surgery on his left thumb. All three are due back sometime this month.
"We have to stay focused and stay in the mix until we get healthy," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "This is basically just surviving for the next couple, two, three weeks for us."
The Knicks got leading scorer Jamal Crawford back after he missed a game with a bruised right hand, but he had only nine points. Nate Robinson finished with 19 for New York.
Curry and Randolph also were back in the starting lineup, after one had come off the bench in each of the last two games. The two haven't meshed the way Thomas hoped when he acquired Randolph from Portland on draft night.
Then again, few of Thomas' players have lived up to expectations, but he still believes he has the core of a team that can win a title.
"I believe that one day we will win a championship here," Thomas said before the game. "And I believe a couple of these guys will be a part of that. And I believe I'll be a part of that."
Curry got off to a strong start, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter. But the rest of the Knicks were only 3-of-12, missing all six 3-point attempts while allowing the Kings to open a 28-23 lead.
The Kings blew it open late in the second quarter, with Salmons making consecutive fast-break layups to give Sacramento a 54-36 lead with 1:12 remaining. The Kings were up 54-40 at the break, with Curry the only New York starter to make a field goal in the first 24 minutes.
Notes: Sacramento concludes its three-game Eastern Conference trip with games at Cleveland and Chicago on Friday and Saturday. ... More from Thomas, whose team hasn't won a playoff game since he became team president four years ago: "I don't necessarily just want to win a championship. I want to leave something that's going to stand for a long time. I want to leave a legacy, I want to leave tradition. I want to leave an imprint, a blueprint in terms of how people play, and how they coach and how they respond when they put on the Knick uniform. And I want to leave what I left in Detroit. Every person that walks through that door as a Piston, when they put on that uniform, there's a certain pride that they carry. And I want to put that here and I want to leave that here in New York. I want to leave a championship legacy."